We are very pleased to feature Third Thursday, a monthly poetry event at the Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson, WI, submitted by Reference/Adult Services Librarian Amy Lutzke.  The next Third Thursday event will be held on June 21.  


Pick a specific thing that your library does to “incubate” the fine and/or creative arts. 

The Dwight Foster Public Library has served Fort Atkinson, WI and the surrounding area since 1892. Our library owns a small archive dedicated to the important local poet, Lorine Niedecker. In 2011, we began a monthly poetry reading program at the library called Third Thursday.

A poster for Third Thursday featuring Bruce Dethlefson

How did it start? Where/what was the need, and how did this fill it?

This program began with a discussion between the president of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker and a library staff member. We work to inform citizens of the state of WI about Lorine Niedecker and to promote poetry in southern WI. This program gives us the opportunity to do both of those things.

How was Third Thursday developed?

We discussed WI poets that we could feature and the agenda for the event. Rooms were reserved at the library so there was a space to hold the reading. Poets were contacted and scheduled. At the kickoff event in April of 2011, we invited WI Poet Laureate Bruce Dethlefson as the featured poet. We contacted a graphic designer to develop a poster for the event.

How do you promote it?

The program is promoted on the Lorine Niedecker website, the Dwight Foster Public Library website, a monthly press release in the local newspaper (The Daily Jefferson County Union) and the distribution of posters each month to public and academic libraries in south central Wisconsin.

Please describe the event.

Third Thursday has two components. The first is a featured Wisconsin poet reading their work for about 30 minutes. After the featured poet is an open mic reading. Those reading at the open mic can read their own work or just a poem or poems that they like. Each month the event has a little different flavor based on the featured poet and attendees.

Wisconsin poet Lisa Fishman at the most recent Third Thursday

What were the results? Did the library do anything to extend or expand it?

This program has definitely provided a place for poetry in our community. The program continues to this day. The library has made an effort to purchase any books published by our featured poets and has created a “poetry corner” in the library to house this particular collection.

What was the response from the community?

For a poetry reading program this has been remarkably well attended. There is a core group that tries to attend each month. And each month a new group of people come to our library because of their connection to the featured poet. Feedback from those in attendance has been overwhelmingly positive.


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